As part of the official Blog Tour for Beth Moran’s new novel, I Hope You Dance, I was delighted to have been given the opportunity to interview Beth for my blog. I loved Making Marion, so naturally I had lots of questions for Beth as she shares the inspiration behind her new novel, tells us how it feels to hear from readers who have enjoyed her work and gives us the low-down on Free Range Chicks…
Hi Beth, welcome to Bookaholic Confessions! I’m thrilled to have you on the site, thank you so much for participating in this interview. Would you like to start by introducing yourself…?
Hi Holly, and thanks for having me! I live on the edge of Sherwood Forest with my husband and 3 children. I`ve worked in cancer research, taught antenatal classes and now split my time between writing novels and freelancing for a bid writing company. I also love working as a volunteer with young people and help run a national women`s network. Things can get pretty hectic!
Can you tell us a bit about your new book, I Hope You Dance (released 18th September 2015)?
I Hope You Dance is about a woman called Ruth, who`s been living on autopilot, travelling along a grey conveyor belt of nothing much, and what happens when the conveyor belt tips her off the end into a pile of stinking mess. It`s about having to come home, which is the last place she wants to be, and facing the past so she can have a future she`s proud of. There`s a group of fabulous women who refuse to take no for an answer when it comes to Ruth`s friendship, a crazy stalker, a rather gorgeous boy next door and, of course, some dancing.
I love the synopsis for I Hope You Dance and I can’t wait to read Ruth’s story. How did you come up with the idea for this storyline?
I started thinking about coming home, which is partly why I set the book in my home town. I wanted to write about those feelings of not being good enough, which I think a lot of us deal with at times, and contrast it with some women who are wonderfully unapologetic about who they are. I`d also been reading some heart-pounding young adult fiction, so thought it would be fun to revisit those heady emotions associated with first love.
Are the characters in your books entirely fictional or are they based on anyone in real life?
Despite what some of my friends think, all my characters are entirely fictional. I wouldn`t dare write about anyone I knew – let alone presume to know how they think or feel. I guess our understanding of how people tick comes from those around us, but that`s as far as it goes.
How long did I Hope You Dance take you to write?
I spend a year writing my books. I start plotting and planning over the summer, get down to serious writing once my kids are back at school and college in September, get the first draft finished by May, and spend June and July editing until it`s ready to send to my publisher in time for the holidays.
I completely loved your debut novel, Making Marion. Are you pleased with the way readers have reacted to your novel and how does it feel when someone tells you they’ve enjoyed your book?
Thanks, Holly – I`m thrilled you enjoyed it. And, oh my goodness, yes! I`ve been blown away by the reaction. I nearly threw Making Marion away because I thought it wasn`t good enough, but my husband persuaded me to try and get it published. Winning a couple of awards has been great, but when someone contacts me from the other side of the world to tell me how the book made their week, or inspired them to change, or gave them hope – it makes all the hard work, the waiting and the nerves worth it.
Can you tell us a bit about your publication journey?
I decided to write a book after a mid-30s crisis that involved wondering when on earth I was going to get around tofollowing my passion, and what on earth was my passion anyway? When I looked closely, I realised how I managed to wangle story telling into pretty much every part of my life. So I took one of my zillion book ideas, and decided to try one chapter and see what happened. What happened was I couldn`t stop. That became a children`s book that got me an agent but not a publisher, and after two years, another children`s book and several near misses, I decided to write the book I would have done first time around if I had the courage. By now my agent had stopped work to have a baby, but I did my research, submitted Making Marion to Lion and spent 3 months obsessively checking my emails until they offered me a deal.
You are a trustee for the fabulous Free Range Chicks (I love everything that they stand for!) Can you tell us a bit more about the network?
Free Range Chicks is a network of women across the UK (and beyond) who share their love, hope, strength and joy with each other, and are inspired to become the women they were created to be. We do this through different events, like our National Conference, which includes a range of workshops and an evening dinner dance at a spa hotel. We also have retreats for women in leadership, afternoon teas, breakfasts and a whole load of other fun events.
One branch of the network is the Dignity Charity. This helps girls in Malawi stay in school by providing reusable menstruation pads and underwear, or the equipment needed to make the pads locally. Currently 9 million girls in Africa miss up to a quarter of their education due to not having menstruation provision, so we`re really excited to see this work grow.
Who are your favourite authors and which type of books do you enjoy reading?
Until I turned 30 I read mostly crime or spy novels, but as I`ve got older I`ve started to embrace more “women`s fiction”. I don`t like anything too heavy or depressing, but will give most things a go. Favourite authors include Cathy Lamb, for her ability to make me laugh and cry, and Kristan Higgins, who just makes me laugh. I also love Diana Gabaldon and have a lot of Dean Koontz on my bookshelf. This year I read all of Rainbow Rowell`s books. Eleanor and Park is the only book I`ve read where as soon as I finished it I went straight back to the start and read it again.
And finally – can you tell us a bit about what you’re up to at the moment?
I`ve been busy with the launch of I Hope You Dance, but in between all this I am making a start on my fourth book (the one after the one after I Hope You Dance).
A huge thank you to Beth and Rhoda at Lion Fiction. ♥